Originally Published: March 13, 2014 6:01 a.m.
PRESCOTT, Arizona - Joe Scott and Hannah Alkire, whose Acoustic Eidolon ensemble music is known for its mix of their diverse musical backgrounds and unusual instrumentation, return to Prescott for a concert Saturday at Trinity Presbyterian Church.
Scott, a native of Colorado, began playing the acoustic guitar when he was 12 years old, and at his father's suggestion, he took up the five-string banjo when he was 14. Rather than learning the latest Led Zeppelin and Beatles songs, he became enthralled with the music of Bill Monroe, Lester Flat and Earl Scruggs.
By the time he was 16, he was a slick banjo player and won many contests at regional bluegrass festivals. He went on to play in various folk, bluegrass and rock groups in the Colorado area.
He then attended the Guitar Institute of Technology in Hollywood, Calif., where he studied all styles of acoustic and electric guitars and with many of the world's finest players. When he completed his studies, he toured the country extensively, playing guitar, banjo, mandolin and vocals with the New Christy Minstrels.
Among Scott's accomplishments as a musician is his innovative "guitjo," a double-neck combination of a guitar and banjo, with a total of 14 strings that he can play simultaneously.
Alkire said that early on, she knew she was "drawn to the cello's voice," even though she had begun playing the piano at the age of 4. But she begged to play the cello when she was 8 years old and followed her passion.
The product of a musical family, Alkire studied with Gabriel Magyar of the Hungarian String Quartet and was classically trained. Though she never gave her music up, she earned a teaching degree in French, English and Spanish and taught at the high school level for five years.
Then, Alkire moved to Colorado and her life changed. By happenstance, she met Scott, they combined their musical talents, formed Acoustic Eidolon - they picked "eidolon," because it "conjures up an idea or visual image" - and got married to boot.
The music the two play together "is all over the board," Scott said, and that would be flamenco, Celtic, Beatles, Zeppelin and Americana.
Acoustic Eidolon's audiences are very diverse, young and older, he said, adding their music offers something for everyone.
After a concert in Canada, a reviewer described Acoustic Eidolon as "world music for the soul," Scott said.
About half of the couple's concerts are vocals and the other half instrumentals, with 85 percent of the music their own compositions. And Scott and Alkire tell the stories behind most of their songs.
One particularly interesting song is about Hannah's grandfather's house in the East, where they stayed while on tour in that part of the country. The 200-year-old house is actually the voice in the song, which is dedicated to Hannah's father who grew up in the vintage home.
Other titles on the play list for Saturday's concert are "Lover of Fire," a flamenco tune, "Billy Ray," which is about a homeless man hey encountered in Denver, and "Stonehaven," among many more.
The concert, presented by Chaparral Arts and the Folk Sessions, begins at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $15 and are available at www.chaparralarts.org. Trinity Presbyterian Church is located at 630 Park Ave. in Prescott.